I'm on day 13 of Whole 30 and a few things have become clear. I sleep better. I don't crave sugar at all anymore. I still want to eat at night. I did cheat yesterday for Mark's birthday. I made steak, crab cakes, asparagus and roasted potatoes. All of this was gluten-free, thought the crab cakes were not Whole30 because I used panko, Hellman's and Worcestershire. Not too bad. But then I added two small glasses of Tempranillo and a little slice of homemade yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. I'm not sorry.
The interesting thing was before all this clean eating, I would have a night like that and wake up craving a bagel with a side of chocolate croissant, two fried eggs and bacon. This morning, I was fine. Ate a banana and swam 30 laps and then came home to a fridge full of delicious, pre-prepped clean food. I ate a big bowl of turkey sweet potato chili and that was that.
So, going forward it's clear that the lifestyle change for me is to make sure there is really good food readily available. Then, when you say, "Life is too short not to eat this amazing crab cake or this birthday cake I made from scratch with all the love," it doesn't mean the whole thing is for nothing. By the way, the Whole30 lady would totally disagree with me. I looked at her website when I started and there's this whole thing about how Whole30 isn't hard. "Cancer is hard. Losing a loved one is hard. Don't even think of cheating." I'm not saying she's wrong, I'm just saying there's a decent grey area between cancer and a slice of birthday cake.
Annnyyyyway, here's how the prep went down:
Veggies first, for salad and crudité.
Then, I chop onion and garlic for chili. Sauté them in olive oil and then add the spices. Once the spices are starting to stick, throw in 1 lb. ground chicken thighs. Don't worry if it sticks, because eventually the meat will release juices and deglaze the pan.
When the meat is cooked through, add 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 1 small can of green chiles, and a large sweet potato, diced kind of small. Then pour chicken broth over everything until it's all covered.
Simmer on low 45 minutes, then add a few large handfuls of greens for extra nutritiousness. Simmer until they wilt and you're done.
While your chili is simmering, make steamed chicken dumplings in cabbage leaves.
Start with a head of savoy cabbage. It's easiest to get the leaves off by starting at the base. Slice and then peel from the bottom:
Blanch the leaves in boiling water and drain. I blanched 15 leaves, and used 13 of them.
Mix up the filling:
This is ground chicken breast, coconut aminos, ginger, garlic and cilantro.
Fill the leaves and roll, like this:
Place them in a steamer basket and steam. I leave the blanching water boiling on low and a this point pour all but one inch out. Then nestle the steaming basket in the pot, cover and steam for 15 minutes.
Finally while the dumpling steam, I make a frittata. This one is mushroom, onion and spinach with 1/2 whole eggs and 1/2 egg whites.
This is easily a full week of food, for me.
While the frittata was baking, I also prepped mushrooms, peppers and onion to grill and seasoned a big cod filet for dinner that night. The kids and husband had fish tacos and I had fish with grilled vegetables.
All of this took about 2 1/2 hours, which to me is completely worthwhile. If I didn't have these things ready, I would have eaten peanut butter and jelly crust leftovers on at least two occasions.
Turkey Sweet Potato Chili (serves 4-6)
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 T. chili powder
- 1 1/2 T. cumin
- 1 T. sweet paprika
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 very large or 2 small sweet potatoes, diced
- 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 1 small can of green chiles
- 1-2 cups of chicken broth
- 2 cups (or more) of kale, baby spinach, etc.
Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Add spices and stir constantly until they begin to stick to the pan. Add the ground chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until well-browned and the juices have mostly evaporated. Add the sweet potatoes, tomato, chiles, and then cover everything with chicken broth. Stir and simmer for 45 minutes. Add a greens and cook until wilted.
Steamed Chicken and Cabbage Dumplings (adapted from this goop recipe.) (Serves 3-4)
- 1 head of savoy cabbage
- 1 lb. ground chicken thighs
- 1/8 c. coconut aminos
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 T. minced ginger
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup of minced cilantro, leaves and stems
Remove 15 outer leaves from the savoy cabbage by making a deep cut at the base of the outermost leaf and peeling from the bottom.
Fill a large pot of water that fits a steamer basket and put to boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. When the water comes to a boil, blanch the cabbage leaves, three at a time, for two minutes and the move to an ice bath. Repeat with all the leaves.
Drain the leaves in a colander. Turn the boiling water down to low.
In a large bowl, put combine all of the remaining ingredients. I keep jars of minced garlic and ginger on hand, for when I'm feeling too lazy to chop. It might be a little less flavorful that way, but sometimes the trade-off is worth it.
Cut a V out of the base of the leaves if the center vein is very large or hard. Then, place about 2 T. of chicken mixture just above the cut. Or at the base of the leaf, if you don't need to cut.
Roll up the leaf 1/3 of the way, then fold in the sides of the leaves. Continue to roll the rest of the way up, and then place the dumpling, seam side down in the steamer basket. Repeat until the chicken mixture is gone.
Pour the boiling water out of the pan, leaving only 1 inch. Please the basket of rolled dumplings in the pot and cover. Steam for 15 minutes.
Usually I make a nice sauce out of miso, tamari, mirin and herbs, but since soy isn't Whole30 compliant, I just used coconut aminos for dipping.